Three cheers for the end of the world?

by Massimo Pigliucci

These days most thinking persons are—or should be!—preoccupied with a number of major challenges facing humanity, from international financial crises to cold and hot wars to the big elephant in the room: climate change. Some people, however, are taking a very different approach to these issues, wishing instead for humanity as a whole to go extinct or be so radically changed as to no longer resemble itself.

Welcome to the strange twin ideologies of Anti-humanism and Trans-humanism, two movements that, despite having the word “humanism” in their name, are in fact entirely antithetical to what humanism has been about from the Renaissance to the 21st century.

Anti-humanism can be characterized as an extreme version of the (largely politically leftist) environmentalist movement. Despite some excesses, environmentalism has always held the scientific as well as moral high grounds. It is hard to deny—though plenty of people insist in doing so—that humanity has had an deleterious, even disastrous effect on Earth’s environment, an effect the magnitude of which has increased steadily and rapidly since the industrial revolution.

The standard environmentalist response has been one of awareness, education, and political action aimed at ameliorating, the problem. Not just for the sake of the environment itself, or of other living species, but in order to insure humanity’s own survival and ability to thrive.

Not so Anti-humanists. For them the problem is humanity itself, and more specifically the kind of technology that human reason has been able to produce. The Anti-humanist hope is for a return to a pre-human natural equilibrium which, of course, never actually existed. … (continue at Substack)

Published by Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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